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Sino-Korean Pact to Protect Fish Stocks

A sudden downpour may have washed out plans for a ceremonial inspection of sea areas off East China's Shandong Province but it failed to dampen enthusiasm among officials for a fishery agreement with the Republic of Korea (ROK) which takes effect Saturday.

A fleet of Chinese fishery management ships had planned to cruise and look at the fishing waters close to Shidao, a port in Weihai, where ROK vessels fish in China's exclusive economic zone.

But the trip was cancelled owing to a deluge which hit the coastal town Friday morning.

China has vowed to act strictly in accordance with the pact.

"The implementation of the agreement is our response to world trends and will be of vital significance to the protection of fishery resources and the cooperation between China and ROK in the field,'' said Qi Jingfa, vice-minister of Agriculture.

The pact, the second of its kind China has signed with its neighbouring countries following the bilateral agreement with Japan.

It was signed in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which took effect in 1994 and states that each coastal nation is allowed jurisdiction over resources, research, and environmental protection up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) offshore.

Many parts of the sea between China and ROK are less than 400 nautical miles (740 kilometres) wide.

According to the pact, both countries will manage fishing in certain places.

The transitional agreement limits the amount of fishing ships each nation is allowed to enter the other nation's exclusive economic zone.

Between June 30, 2000 and December 31, 2001, a total of 2,796 Chinese fishing boats can enter South Korea's exclusive economic zone and fish no more than 164,400 tons aquatic products. For South Korea, the figure is 1,402 ships and 90,000 tons.

This will lay off many Chinese fishermen. Local governments in Shandong are striving to find work for fishermen who will lose their jobs under the new pact, according to Li Jianhua, vice-director of the Fisheries Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture.

China and ROK began negotiations in 1993, one year after they established diplomatic relations. The two countries finally reached an agreement last August.

(China Daily 07/02/2001)

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